Shakespeare’s First Folio : A Timeless Literary Milestone

Reading Time : 3 minutes

In the annals of literary history, certain moments stand as pivotal markers, shaping the trajectory of human creativity and intellectual pursuit. Today, we celebrate a monumental event: the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare’s “First Folio,” a collection that breathed life into the immortal words of the Bard and safeguarded his legacy for generations to come. This momentous occasion not only marked the inception of the globally adored Shakespearean canon but also served as a guardian, preventing the potential loss of 18 of his cherished plays, as revealed by the esteemed Folger Shakespeare Library.



Preserving Shakespeare’s Legacy : The Significance of the First Folio. In the early 17th century, Shakespeare’s plays were scattered across the pages of various manuscripts and ephemeral publications. The First Folio, compiled by John Heminges and Henry Condell, emerged as a beacon of literary preservation. Published in 1623, seven years after the playwright’s death, this compendium brought together 36 of Shakespeare’s plays, including classics like “Hamlet,” “Othello,” and “Macbeth.” Its publication not only safeguarded these works but also elevated Shakespeare to unparalleled literary heights, ensuring that his brilliance would echo through the corridors of time.



A Glimpse into the Elizabethan Era : The Making of the First Folio. The creation of the First Folio was a laborious and meticulous process, reflecting the dedication of Heminges and Condell to immortalize Shakespeare’s words. In an era devoid of modern printing technology, each page was set by hand, a testament to the unwavering commitment of the craftsmen involved. The First Folio not only standardized the text of Shakespeare’s plays but also included several works that had never been published before, making it an invaluable treasure trove for scholars and enthusiasts alike.



The Enduring Impact: Shakespeare’s First Folio Through the Ages. As we commemorate the 400th anniversary of the First Folio, it is imperative to acknowledge its enduring impact on literature, theater, and culture. This monumental publication laid the foundation for Shakespearean studies, enabling scholars to delve into the intricacies of his language, characters, and themes. Beyond the realm of academia, the First Folio has inspired countless adaptations, from stage productions to cinematic masterpieces, captivating audiences and ensuring that Shakespeare’s genius continues to captivate hearts and minds across the globe. As we honor this historic milestone, let us revel in the beauty of Shakespeare’s words and recognize the First Folio as a beacon that illuminated the path for centuries of literary exploration and appreciation.



In commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio, we pay homage to the guardians of his legacy, Heminges and Condell, whose dedication preserved 18 timeless plays. The First Folio’s enduring impact on literature and culture is immeasurable, transcending centuries. As we celebrate this literary milestone, let us cherish the brilliance it encapsulates, reminding us of the power of words to transcend time, uniting generations under the timeless banner of Shakespearean artistry.


Bénédicte Lin – Brussels, Paris, London, Seoul, Tokyo, New York, Taipei